Chief Executive Newsletter Updates

The Farmers Club Newsletter – No. 55 – March 2023

January and February are usually very quiet months in the Club and whilst January’s financial results were broadly in line with expectations, February exceeded them owing to increasing occupancy in the Club and a return of many of our “Friends of Conference & Banqueting” (commercial clients) conducting their business in our function rooms.  Continuing train strikes continue to blight our aims to be operating at full capacity with this current week being a particularly challenging one.  The club team and members have shown grit and determination to get in/stay at the Club, but it has a tremendously negative impact on the Club’s business. 
It was disappointing to see that the Budget of yesterday increased Corporation Tax and I am looking closely at the new Capital allowance rules to see if I can offset some these increases against Capital project expenditure.  There was not much other good news relating to Club business and changes to prices of beer and wines have more than cancelled each other out.  I am hopeful that with inflation forecast to drop significantly over the next few months and interest rates following suit (although I doubt at the same rate) it will give us some price stability in contrast to the wildly fluctuating commodity prices we are currently experiencing.  Fortuitously, there will be an extension to Business rates relief until April 2024 and we can expect a further sum of relief up to £110K.  All in all it gives us a steady platform for growth throughout the year and even more so when the transport pay disputes have been resolved!
Parking in London
As you may know one of your member’s benefits entitles you to 20% off Parking at Q-Park Leicester Square.  The address for your SatNav’s is:
Q-Park Leicester Square
Whitcomb St.
All bookings MUST be made online at
To access the discount, please use the discount code FARM.  The car park has been installed with ANPR, so the barrier will open once you have pre-booked with your vehicle registration.
Please note: Paper discount vouchers will no longer be available from the Farmers Club Reception.

Electronic Key Cards
I have made several references over the last few months to a modest CAPEX project, which I would now like to expand upon a little.  Bedroom, store room and function room access/security is achieved via mortise lock and the keys that operate them.  We have a perennial problem with lost keys, broken keys (and therefore broken locks) and an inability to monitor how many keys could be in circulation for a particular door at a particular time.  This means that if a key is lost, we make another key and hope that any person who may later have access to that key doesn’t use it again for that room in future (it does after all state which room it opens!).  Alternatively, we have to physically break the door or the surround to effect entry – an even more costly option.
Because keys are often kept with the members throughout their stay and not handed in when they depart from the Club for any reason, we are never certain who is actually in the Club at any one time.  Whilst it is not our intention to pry into the comings/goings of members, this takes on another aspect when an emergency situation occurs such as a fire in the building.  We may know who has checked in, but we won’t know who was actually in the building at the time of the emergency.  I believe this is something that needs to be addressed and that this system provides a better potential long term solution than we have at present.
Since 2019 we have had breaches of security one or two occasions where there have been thefts from members’ rooms within the Club which of course is in a shared building which makes monitoring of movement far more difficult. Allied to this, and to further enhance both the health, safety and security of all who stay at the Club and the security of personal property of members and a significant amount of on-site ‘stock’ (linen, food, alcohol, tools/power tools and consumables) I have scoped out, costed and identified a door lock security system that also links in to our property management system.  When we started Project SPIRIT, (the replacement of the old IT system into an integrated membership, property management system), the key card element was the final part of the project.  We had intended to install this before now, but have been prevented for obvious reasons over the last 2 years or so.  This key card system will erase the difficulties we have had over many years concerning lost keys, keys that for understandable and innocent reasons, end up around the country, with many never returned and yet still in ‘circulation’ and the uncertainty and lack of overall security that implies.  To that end, the installation of the key card system will begin in late March and complete by the end of the first week in April, just before Easter. Virginia has written a more in-depth piece on the system and what it means for members, which you will see in the next Journal at the end of April.  

Death of Past Chairman – John Kerr MBE JP DL

It is with the greatest sadness that I have to inform members of the news that John Kerr passed away on the evening of Tuesday 14th March at the age of 83.  He was an extremely prominent member and had held a number of important club positions during a membership of over 50 years.  He was a President and Club Chairman (1994) as well as serving as Chairman of The Farmers Club Charitable Trust.  I have written to his widow Jill expressing the condolences of all at the Club and a full Obituary will feature in the Summer issue of the Club Journal.

Outstanding Subscriptions for 2023
There are still a number of members who have not yet paid their annual subscription. I would ask that payment of outstanding subscriptions is made as soon as possible please and I have sent a final reminder to those it concerns.  Thank you.
Club Events Thus Far in 2023
The U35s were active in February holding the new Chairman’s (Emily Pile) Black Tie supper which was full with over 50 people attending including President and Club Chairman, Meurig Raymond.  They followed this with a day in London on the day after, taking in a bit of Theatre via the West End production of ‘The Book of Mormon’.  The U35's also went to Twickenham to cheer on England in their Six Nations Rugby match against Italy.  At the end of February, Kirsty hosted 30 members for an early supper in the Club before making the short trek to the ‘Kit Kat’ club for an evening of cabaret within the setting of a 1930s Berlin Club.  Members came back extremely enthused at this very different and unique show.  A number of members did not make the ballot such was demand and Kirsty is scoping a further trip to the ‘Kit Kat’ later in the year. 

U35’s Events
In the second quarter of the year, the U35s are continuing to build on their busy start to the year and a very mixed programme of events has been compiled – plenty for our younger section to choose from and all on the website for booking:

•             Salon Privé London, Saturday 22nd April
•             King & Country Coronation Dinner, Friday 28th April
•             Meantime Brewery Tour, Saturday 29th April
•             Chapel Down Vineyard Tour, Tasting & Lunch, Sunday 14th May
•             Farm Walk Weekend Away, Sussex
•             Polo in the Park Family Day, Sunday 11th June
•             T20 Cricket Surrey v’s Middlesex (men’s), Thursday 22nd June
•             Summer Cocktails on the Terrace Friday 30th June

Summer Shows

These have now been promoted via e-newsletter and on the website and we will have a little further clarity on speakers at the Dinners/Receptions/Breakfasts in due course.  I am happy to report that Mr Peter Hannan MBE, the Managing Director of multi-award winning Hannan Meats, has agreed to be our speaker at the Balmoral Show Dinner at the Royal Belfast Golf Club on Tuesday 9th May.  Please sign up, support the Club and listen to a most stimulating and entertaining speaker.
At the Kent County Show, we will gather in the Maidstone Hall and will be addressed by guest speaker and former High Sheriff of Kent, Mr Willian Alexander, who now runs the largest Lavender farm in the UK – it promises to be an interesting talk. 

At the Great Yorkshire show, we have secured Mr Duncan Berkshire FRCVS, as our guest speaker.  Duncan is a specialist Pig Vet based in North Yorkshire and heads up a team covering a good proportion of the UK national herd.  In these challenging times for pig farmers, it will be interesting to hear his take on not just animal welfare, but of the industry itself. 

At the Royal Welsh Show in July, we will hear from new CEO Aled Jones who is an extremely able and humorous speaker. Our speaker for the Highland Show dinner will be broadcaster, writer, columnist, farmer and Club member,  Mr Jamie Blackett, who should be a fascinating and engaging speaker covering his wide range of interests including farming, rural and political elements.

I am working hard to obtain other interesting speakers for the other show events and will get back to you when I have done so, but please keep signing up for these show events as it gives the Chairman and I an excellent opportunity to meet you on ‘your turf’ as well as an opportunity to meet other members from within and out with the county!  

Club Events

Other main Club events coming up exhibit a similar mix of diverse experiences including a unique family day and Winnie the Pooh musical stage adaptation.  All are on the website ready for booking:

DATE FOR YOUR DIARY BCPC/Farmers Club Technical Seminar 

I am very pleased to inform members that the BCPC/Farmers Club Technical Seminar for 2023 will be held on Thursday 1st June and has as its focus the title: Farming for profit and Food Security.  Speakers will include Professor Tim Benton, Professor of Population Ecology, University of Leeds; George Badger, Partner, Ceres Rural; Andrew Robinson, Farm manager, 1,150ha, Herne Manor Farm and Huw Thomas, CEO Puffin Produce and Pembrokeshire Creamery, with others to follow.  Full details and booking arrangements will be published next week, so hold the date in your diary prior to booking your place.

As you can see from the above, we are now going through the gears and ramping up to a very busy time of the Club year.  All the events listed in this newsletter are in addition to those that are already on the website. Craig and Kirsty have tried very hard to broaden the experience base of our trips to reflect members’ wishes recently expressed by way of the recent Members Survey, whenever possible. 
I am really looking forward to settling down to the rapid pace that this time of the year brings, and I know the team are also.  I never, ever, take your support for the Club for granted but I really do appreciate it none-the-less.  I hope our programme, our welcome, our food and beverage offering and most of all, the ambience we create in your club, are all reasons to come down to London and experience it for yourself. 
Best regards

Andrei Spence